McFarland Peak
Looking for an excuse to visit the Spring Mountains northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada, I chose to ascend McFarland Peak on 20 November 2018.  There are usually two different approaches for this peak, and I opted for the longer route from the south mainly because the driving access is easier.

From Highway 95, turn west onto Lee Canyon Road (Highway 156) and drive for 28 kilometres to Bristlecone trailhead at the end of the road just past the ski resort entrance.  Be sure not to park at the very end in the cul-de-sac which is a No Parking zone.

The temperature was quite frosty as I set off along the official Bristlecone trail.  About 1.6 kilometres from the trailhead, a short cut trail branching off to the left has proven to be the more popular route of choice.  The short cut trail is unsigned, but it is well-defined and generally easy to follow.  However, even with a helpful GPS track provided to me by avid local hiking expert, Shin Goto, I still ended up off-track when I inadvertently turned onto an incorrect fork on the short cut trail (on my way back later in the day, I built a couple of cairns to make the junction clearer).  Fortunately, it was not too difficult to find the correct trail and get back on track.  The short cut trail eventually rejoins the official trail, and I settled into a lengthy and undulating hike along the ridge leading to McFarland Peak.
Pay attention to the signs here and be careful of where you park! The Upper Bristlecone trailhead is located at end of Secondary Road 156 just past the Lee Canyon ski resort.
An ascent for another day. The Sisters are visible from the trailhead.
Except for a confusing branch trail early on which I inadvertently turned up by mistake! The short cut trail is mostly well-defined.
Looks far away still! Sonny gets his first clear glimpse of McFarland Peak in the distance.

Looks impressive enough!

Here is a closer look at McFarland Peak from the south.

At the base of the peak, the trail switchbacks and begins to descend the slope to the west.  I left the official trail here and followed a spur trail to a broad gully which grants access to the summit ridge.  Ascending the gully is mostly a steep Class 2 grunt, but about halfway up, a short exposed ramp requires some hands-on scrambling.  Two cairns mark the end of the gully and the start of the broad summit ridge.  The rest of the ascent is easy hiking, and I was soon standing atop the fourth highest peak in the Spring Mountains.
An important junction--try not to miss it! This is the spot to leave the main trail which switchbacks and descends the slope at far left.  A spur trail marked with cairns continues straight and to the right.
Get ready for a steep grunt... Various beaten paths with cairns head up this steep gully.
Time for some hands-on scrambling! Halfway up the gully is this exposed ramp which is the crux.
Doesn't look so bad here! Sonny scrambles up the crux.
The rest of the ascent is much easier and more relaxed from here. A couple of cairns mark the top of the gully.

Yeah, baby!

Sonny stands on the summit of McFarland Peak (3271 metres).


That's the highest peak in Death Valley. In this view to the west, Telescope Peak is visible on the left horizon over 120 kilometres away.
Now I have the theme from "Bonanza" running through my head! Bonanza Peak is a mere 2.8 kilometres to the northwest.
Another scramble for another day. The unofficially named Macks Peak sits to the northeast.
Yummy Mummy! Mummy Mountain dominates the view to the southeast.  Barely discernible in the foreground at left are The Sisters.
The first summit I ever tagged in the Las Vegas area! To the south, Charleston Peak is the highest in the Spring Mountains.
For my return trip, I retraced my steps all the way back to the trailhead.  Descending the crux was marginally harder than ascending it, but otherwise, I had no issues getting down the gully and back to the official trail.  The long walk back was only notable for the numerous annoying uphill sections, and admittedly, I expressed more than a few expletives along the way.  There were also a few more curses when I hit some rush-hour grid-lock on the drive back to my hotel in Las Vegas.
Not a problem if dry. Sonny carefully descends the crux.
Lotsa uphill still to come...DOH! Back on the main trail, Sonny settles into a long hike back to the trailhead.
Feels frosty again in the shadows! The late day sun sets the "head" of Mummy Mountain ablaze.
Hee-Haw! A couple of wild donkeys forage beside the highway at an elevation of about 7000 feet.
It's almost uphill both ways! Total Distance:  19.4 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  8 hours 57 minutes
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 1156 metres

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